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Car Wash Security Best Practices

They say hindsight is a great thing because once something disastrous has happened, you can look back and see all the ways in which you could have avoided it. Unfortunately, hindsight never solves your current problem.

One area in which new carwash investors and owners can operate to actively avoid such disasters is in security. While you can’t predict if or when your wash will become a target of crime, you can take preventative measures.

Types of carwash theft
Not only do thieves break into vaults and cash registers, but many will also vandalize vacuums and coin bay doors to try to reach the cash inside. The cost of replacing this equipment is almost always far more than what was actually stolen. 

Even customers can try to cheat you, whether by, again, vandalizing coin bay or vacuum doors in the hopes of getting more time, or just trying to get a free wash via entering washdown codes. Also, carwashes are often victims of damage claim fraud, where customers will try to convince a carwash that it is responsible for damage to their vehicles and should pay the claims.

With so many ways to rob or cheat a carwash, you’ll want to be sure to put in some measure of security for your new business. But what sort of equipment should you be looking for? A good acronym to remember whether you’ve ticked all the boxes is: C.A.L.L. — Cameras, Alarms, Locks and Lighting. Some or all of these will be necessary for each area of your wash.

Statistically, surveillance equipment is the greatest deterrent for criminals. There is no one-size-fits-all camera system that will work for everyone but you want to look at one that is going to withstand the harsh chemicals and humidity a carwash can throw at it.

It’s recommended that new owners invest in good quality, minimum IP66-rated cameras specially designed and tested for the carwash environment to withstand against dust. dirt & water. It is also recommend purchasing hybrid Digital Video Recorders (DVR) and infrared cameras that can be used during the day and night. A high quality, high definition camera system that completely covers the property is an absolute must as well. Carwash owners should strongly consider an IP or High-Definition based CCTV system due to their superior picture resolutions, increased service capabilities, future upgrade flexibility and the ability to adequately manage large camera counts. With a good camera system you want to regularly check that the recording software is up to date and cameras are functioning correctly. Another bonus with today’s technology is that we have the ability to monitor security footage via our smart phones. This effectively gives us the capability to monitor our car wash site 24/7.

Monitored alarm systems are another must for carwashes. While they still perform their primary function to alert authorities in case of a break-in, many now can be integrated with access control, cameras and climate control. These new systems, along with their smartphone apps, allow owners/operators to arm/disarm the alarm remotely, monitor and adjust the thermostat, open gates and locks, turn lights on/off, etc. Once you have an appropriate alarm system ensure the security codes for the alarm are regularly changed. This will keep thieves on their toes and also prevent ex employees taking advantage of this knowledge.

Locks and Lighting
Of course, carwash owners should safeguard the carwash with locks on all types of doors and gates — walk-in, garage/bay/tunnel, pay station, vacuum, etc. — but there are other ways to make your carwash a difficult target for theft. Don’t just rely on locks! Another practice that is recommended is to regularly vary times when collecting cash, this will also deter any thieves that may be surveying the area. Don’t allow yourself to be a target because you have a strict schedule for when your cash is collected.

One consideration is to take your landscaping into account. Do you have clear visibility all around the property? Make sure, for instance, to trim bushes and trees near the wash building regularly to eliminate potential hiding places. In addition, keep your facility well lit, both inside and outside. Consider two-stage lighting that brightens when someone enters an area as well as LED lighting, which is more cost and energy efficient.

By investing in security, you can not only protect your carwash by potentially deterring criminals, but you can also save money in the long run — money that you might not even realize you’re losing if you don’t.

Prowash recommends Razor Security for all your security needs.

Date Published: 7 April 2017